Saturday, December 20, 2008

Juventus 4-2 Milan

Serie A Week 16 - 14/12/08 (19.30 UK)
Juventus 4 - 2 Milan
Del Piero pen 16 (J), Pato 31 (M), Chiellini 34 (J), Amauri 41, 69 (J), Ambrosini 56 (M)
Stadio Olimpico

Amauri bagged a brace as Juventus thumped Milan 4-2 in a Turin thriller, but Gianluca Zambrotta's red card was decisive.

Bianconeri patron Lapo Elkann called this 'the real derby d'Italia', but more so it was a battle to see who would give chase to runaway leaders Inter. Juve had Nicola Legrottaglie suspended on top of the usual list with David Trezeguet, Gianluigi Buffon, Mauro Camoranesi, Hasan Salihamidzic, Tiago Mendes, Christian Poulsen, Jonathan Zebina and Dario Knezevic.

The Rossoneri had Gennaro Gattuso ruled out for six months by knee ligament surgery, while Daniele Bonera, Marco Borriello and Alessandro Nesta were also out. Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Ronaldinho were able to play despite injury niggles, but Kaka and Mathieu Flamini failed late fitness tests.

Last season this fixture ended 3-2 for Juve, Milan's first defeat here since a 2-1 result in 2002. The Diavolo's last victory in Turin was 3-1 in March 2004. Before kick-off there were banners marking Juve youth team players Riccardo Neri and Alessio Ferramosca, who drowned in a tragic accident at the Vinovo training ground one year ago.

Pouring rain fell on the packed Stadio Olimpico and Kaka's absence meant Seedorf and Ronaldinho supported Alexandre Pato. The youngster sprung the offside trap after five minutes, but his first touch let him down, then Sissoko's shot hit defenders as he pounced on a Christian Abbiati error.

Amauri's overhead kick was over as Sissoko dispossessed Pirlo and Abbiati plucked a Claudio Marchisio rocket out of the air. Amauri had a good chance, but couldn't quite get his head to the cross at the back post. Olof Mellberg's glancing header whipped wide, but moments later the referee pointed to the spot.

Alessandro Del Piero gathered just inside the box and Marek Jankulovski went through the back with a sliding tackle, but it's not clear whether he made any contact with the ball. Del Piero converted powerfully into the top corner despite Abbiati guessing the right angle.

Milan had a great opportunity to equalise two minutes later when Seedorf crossed to Massimo Ambrosini from five yards, but he somehow nodded over! The midfielder had picked up a knock early on and was running in an awkward manner, but could not be replaced because the Rossoneri had few other options.

Alex Manninger flew to palm away a deflected Pirlo free kick, then the goalkeeper pushed a cross right at Seedorf, but the Dutchman's follow-up was charged down.

Jankulovski risked a second penalty when he barged into the back of Zdenek Grygera. There was bad news for Juve, as Pavel Nedved picked up a knock and made way for Paolo De Ceglie.

Milan drew level with a good team move on the counter. Kakha Kaladze won back the ball in midfield and immediately sent Ronaldinho clear down the left, his ball rolled across for Pato to come sliding in from six yards.

It didn't last long, as Juve punished the Rossoneri from a set-piece. The corner was whipped in for Giorgio Chiellini's header down that bounced into the bottom corner. He was left totally unmarked as he peeled off to around the penalty spot.

Manninger timed his run well to pluck a Pirlo chipped pass off Emerson's head, but Juventus extended their lead moments later. De Ceglie went on the counter down the left and crossed for the unmarked Amauri, who had a totally free downward header from six yards.

Marchisio dribbled past three Milan shirts and had his shot deflected wide for a corner in stoppages.

Ancelotti introduced Andriy Shevchenko for Emerson at half-time, pushing Seedorf deeper. Juve threatened again with Marchisio's chest and volley over from 25 metres.

Abbiati got down very well to fingertip a Sissoko screamer from outside the box as Milan continued to have problems dealing with corners.

Molinaro kept his cool to pass the ball out of his own box under pressure from Sheva. Milan were pushing forward and the period of sustained pressure paid off when Ambrosini's hopeful snapshot from distance took a deflection off Chiellini to send Manninger the wrong way.

Marchionni's fresh air shot on a volley let Milan off the hook, but the Rossoneri had the initiative now. That all went wrong when Zambrotta came flying in for a late tackle on De Ceglie barrelling down the left flank and a second booking was inevitable. From the free kick there were appeals over a Seedorf handling offence.

Milan switched to a three-man defence, if only through lack of alternatives. It didn't suit them and Juve took advantage immediately. Amauri combined with Sissoko and anticipated Jankulovski for a half-volley in at the near post that caught Abbiati by surprise.

It really should've been 5-2 moments later, but Del Piero hit the upright with the entire goal to aim at! The captain flicked on the ball to sell Ambrosini short, but struck the woodwork from the penalty spot.

Ancelotti had to make a change, as Ambrosini made way for Luca Antonini, a full-back, while Pippo Inzaghi replaced Pato. Manninger had to flap a Ronaldinho free kick off Antonini's head from six yards, while he also grabbed an Inzaghi header out of the air.

Marchisio drilled wide after Pirlo lost the ball in midfield, but when Juve did the same thing Sheva earned a corner as his pass for Inzaghi was cleared for a corner.

Substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta had the chance for a fifth in stoppages set up by Del Piero, but blasted well wide.


Juventus: Manninger; Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro; Marchionni, Sissoko (Zanetti 87), Marchisio, Nedved (De Ceglie 30); Del Piero, Amauri (Iaquinta 88)

Milan: Abbiati; Zambrotta, Maldini, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Ambrosini (Antonini 73), Emerson (Shevchenko 46), Pirlo; Seedorf, Ronaldinho; Pato (Inzaghi 76)

Ref: Rizzoli
Sent off: Zambrotta 65 (M)

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